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Message from the Superintendent: Pre-K-Gr. 5 students return to buildings full-time starting Oct. 19 (does not apply to DLA)

Please note: This message was sent to all Osseo Area Schools families but is most relevant to families of students from early childhood through Grade 5 who are currently attending school in the hybrid model.

Dear parents/caregivers:

Last night, the ISD 279 School Board approved my recommendation to bring our early childhood and elementary learners, pre-K through grade 5, back to buildings for in-person learning starting October 19

This means:

  • Children in our free, every day pre-kindergarten program plus grades K-5 will return to physical classrooms every regularly scheduled school day, Monday-Friday.
  • Children in Early Childhood & Family Education and Early Childhood Special Education programs will attend their physical classrooms on their regularly scheduled class days. 
  • Students in grades 6-12 (and OEC) will remain in the hybrid model, attending in person two days/week and doing distance learning the other three days/week.
  • This decision does not affect students in the Distance Learning Academy.

Why change?

  • My team has been carefully monitoring virus activity data in the county and in our local cities and consulting with state and county officials. The trend for the past several weeks has been downward, which points to more in-person learning. Operationally, there are significant and time-consuming adjustments to be made, which is why the October 19 start date was chosen.

What will be different?

There are some important differences between the hybrid and in-person models, as described in the Minnesota Dept. of Health Planning Guide for Schools. Two critical differences are:

  • Strict capacity limits do not apply. All elementary students will be in the building at the same time and buses will run at full capacity for those students.
  • Schools will create as much space between early childhood and elementary students and teachers as is feasible during the day but will not be held strictly to enforcing 6 feet of social distancing during the school day. 

What will be similar?

  • Students and staff will still wear masks while they are in a school facility (including school buses) and use of hand sanitizer/hand washing will still be strongly promoted.
  • Additional cleaning efforts will continue, with extra attention to high-touch areas.
  • Students and staff will still be required to do health screenings prior to coming to school or work every day.
  • Please review the district’s Safe Learning Plan for in-person implementation details in 17 areas of operations.
  • The district’s response to positive COVID cases will continue.

A final note
I know there are many passionate arguments for and against this decision. Please know that we are using the best decision-making tools and data available, and we will work hard to promote smooth transitions between learning models throughout the year. 

We will continue to monitor virus activity closely through careful evaluation of weekly county case rate data. We will also continue to assess our key readiness indicators and consult with the MN Dept of Health, MN Dept of Education, and Hennepin County Public Health as we consider potential moves in and out of learning models. The move to elementary in person may not be permanent, and the need to dial it back to a more restrictive model could come quickly at any time.  

As I noted in my last message, you can expect change throughout this year as we adjust to changing virus activity and state guidance.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate a very unusual school year.

Respectfully,

Cory McIntyre
Superintendent

Superintendent Cory McIntyre